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A method for controlling unwanted telephone calls and E-mail

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000015615D
Original Publication Date: 2002-Feb-17
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-20
Document File: 2 page(s) / 61K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Disclosed is a method by which potential recipients of unwanted telephone calls and E-mail can control the interruptions caused by such unwanted messages. Several observations are relevant to this work:

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A method for controlling unwanted telephone calls and E-mail

   Disclosed is a method by which potential recipients of unwanted telephone calls and E-mail can control the interruptions caused by such unwanted messages. Several observations are relevant to this work:

The growing volume of unwanted telemarketing calls and E-mail messages are widely regarded as a serious problem for society and a serious irritation for individuals who depend on the telephone or on E-mail (that is, almost everyone).

Existing techniques and ideas for limiting the interruptions caused by such messages are inadequate. Legislation is controversial and difficult because it may interfere with free-speech rights and because it definitely would affect some strong commercial interests. In any case, legislation can do little about messages that cross jurisdictional borders. Automated filtering techniques are imperfect and can easily be defeated by the senders. Using an unlisted phone number or hiding the potential recipient's true E-mail address is a great inconvenience to the recipient and to the recipient's friends and associates.

Only the recipient can really determine whether a message is welcome or not, and that is only possible after the message has been received.

The recipient controls the device that actually performs the interruption -- the telephone that rings or the mail software that puts a message into the recipient's inbox -- so the real problem is to define a policy that these devices can implement on the recipient's behalf. The policy must allow all welcome messages to be delivered, while blocking most or all of those messages that the recipient will view as unwelcome.

No such policy will be widely accepted if it imposes a serious inconvenience on the recipient or on those who have a legitimate need to communicate with the recipient.

So the purpose of this disclosure is to describe a proposed policy that will discourage unwanted messages while minimizing the inconvenience to message recipients. The key idea is that if a sender S wishes to send an uninvited message to a recipient R, whether by telephone or E-mail, S must make a binding offer to pay some amount of money (the "interrupt fee") to R. If the message is unwelcome, R will collect the money; if the message is welcome, R will refund the payment to S, or arrange that it is never collected in the first place. S may try to persuade R not to collect the money, but once the message is sent, the decision is made by R. R also sets the size of the interrupt fee required to reach him. If the binding offer to pay does not accompany the message, the phone does not ring or the message is returned without being placed in R's inbox. This policy is implemented in software in R's telephone set or E-mail software.

To minimize the inconvenience to R and R's friends and associates, the policy actually uses a combination of three mechanisms:

People who frequently call or correspond with R are placed on an "acce...